Vermont’s Governor Wallace


Today Vermont had an opportunity to lead the nation in the fight for equality and justice by becoming the first state to legislate marriage equality without a mandate from the courts. Today, Governor Jim Douglas stood on the wrong side of history and vetoed the bill that had overwhelming support from the legislature. There is a decent chance that the veto will be overridden, but either way, Douglas has sealed his fate in history’s eyes.

Douglas is a graduate of Middlebury College and a resident of Middlebury. I wanted to take the opportunity to share the letter I wrote to him last week, which clearly made no impact on his attempt to impose his own beliefs upon his neighbors. Let’s hope Vermont can field a strong competitor to unseat him in 2010.

March 30, 2009

Dear Governor Jim Douglas,

I write with great disappointment regarding your proclaimed intention to veto the Marriage Equality bill working its way through the Vermont Legislature. As one of your neighbors in Middlebury, I can assure you that your position on the issue does not accurately represent the will of the people of Addison County. With a single signature, you stand to disempower the voices of the 300 people that gathered on Sunday, March 29, at the Middlebury town green to support marriage equality, and thousands of other supporters of equal rights around the state.

As a faculty member at your alma mater, I hope I can appeal to your sense of history that was forged at Middlebury College. I teach American media history, and regularly show footage from the Civil Rights demonstrations in the 1950s and 1960s. A striking image from this era is of Governor George Wallace, standing on the steps of the University of Alabama in an effort to block integration. It was clear even then that Governor Wallace was fighting a losing battle, and today he is best remembered for being on the wrong side of history. I sincerely hope that in decades to come, I will not be showing similar footage of you as this generation’s Governor Wallace standing in the way of today’s battle for civil rights.

You have an opportunity to be on the right side of history. Your personal beliefs about the meaning of marriage should not stand in the way of progress toward equality and justice. If you personally choose to oppose the bill, please leave it unsigned, allowing overwhelming legislative intent to move forward without you standing on the steps to block the civil rights of thousands of Vermonters. I hope that your sense of history and justice will win out over bigotry and political grandstanding, and ensure you will not be the Governor Wallace of the 21st century.


Jason Mittell
East Middlebury

2 Responses to “Vermont’s Governor Wallace”

  1. 1 Corene

    Great letter, Jason. I hope the Legislature can override the veto. I am not optimistic about the pending California Supreme Court decision on Prop. 8.

  2. The good news: Vermont’s Legislature overrode the veto this morning, making Vermont the fourth state with marriage equality, and the first to legislate it without a court mandate!

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